2006-08-17 / Other News

Friday Eve Bike Tour Is Historical & Healthful

By Linda Steinmuller

(Clockwise from top)On a recent Friday evening, a group of bikers ride on one of the many abandoned airstrips  where airplanes once taxied before takeoff, the largest community garden, including this area for children, in the city is at Floyd Bennett, and the tour includes a glimpse of North 40, one of the site's many nature trails for hikers and others to explore the natural habitat.           Photos by Linda Steinmuller
(Clockwise from top)On a recent Friday evening, a group of bikers ride on one of the many abandoned airstrips where airplanes once taxied before takeoff, the largest community garden, including this area for children, in the city is at Floyd Bennett, and the tour includes a glimpse of North 40, one of the site's many nature trails for hikers and others to explore the natural habitat. Photos by Linda Steinmuller Looking for something different to do on a Friday night? Floyd Bennett Field's "After Work Bike Tour" is a great way to unwind after a stressful week at work, get some exercise, meet new people and learn about this historic, abandoned airfield's rich history while exploring the natural and ecological wonders of Jamaica Bay. Floyd Bennett Field has been part of Gateway National Recreation's Area natural wild-life preserve since 1972.

After Student Conservation Association intern Mark Strang narrated a brief history of Floyd Bennett Field, the bike tour began. The guide led riders along abandoned airfields, nature trails, community gardens, an archery range, and a model plane flying field.

Cyclists also learned fun, interesting facts along the way, including the airfield's significance and the role it played in military and commercial aviation. For instance, Floyd Bennett Field is home to New York City's largest community garden and is the only place in city limits where you can camp legally. The past met the present when we biked by the almost-finished $40 million sports complex scheduled to open this fall.

Floyd Bennett Field is significant in the history of civil and military aviation. It was New York City's first municipal airport, home to record-break-ing flights of famous aviators, and served as an important military base and deployment arena during World War II. As a naval air station, Floyd Bennett Field defended the nation and ships coming into New York Harbor from 1941 to 1971.

The tour is a great introduction to the myriad of activities that Floyd Bennett Field has to offer and will help you plan future visits. You can spend days exploring Floyd Bennett Field. Plan on coming back to hike the North 40 nature trail where over 180 species of birds have been officially recorded or take a guided tour of Hangar B where vintage aircraft are stored. Hangar B is the home of H.A.R.P. (Historic Avia-tion Restoration Projects), a unique volunteer effort created to preserve the rich aviation history of Floyd Ben-nett Field.

Tours depart Fridays at 6 p.m. from the Ranger Station at the airfield's main entrance on Flatbush Avenue, south of the Belt Parkway. The program is free and lasts about 90 minutes. But the weekly summer tour can only be enjoyed for two more Fridays. For information, call 1-718-338-3338, ext. 224.

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